LAST week, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, released the first annual report that tracks the implementation of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
The report outlines key achievements, challenges and future plans and targets in implementing the Blueprint.
We congratulate the Education Ministry for the successes they have achieved. Many of the Blueprint’s initiatives are innovative and are showing improvements.
For example, the District Transformation Programme in Sabah and Kedah seem to have delivered some improvements in school grade point average scores, an increase of 0.07 and 0.06 points respectively.
This means there is an improvement in education equity, as schools in rural areas are improving.
We are also happy to see increased innovation to ensure that all children can receive an education.
Over the last year, three more schools have been added into the School in Hospital (SDH) programme and a school for children without documents has been established in the Chow Kit area in Kuala Lumpur.
These are positive steps towards ensuring education for all.
However we are concerned that access at the preschool level fell well short of the targeted 88% for 2013, only managing to increase from 80.5 % in 2012 to 81.7 % in 2013.
We are also concerned about the literacy rates in our schools.
The government had targeted 67% literacy in English and 90% for Bahasa Malaysia for Year 1 students. But we only achieved 63.3% and 81.3% respectively.
In IDEAS’ nationwide education survey of the bottom 40%, we found that poor parents want their children to be proficient in English.
This is understandable because English proficiency could be a tool to move them out of poverty.
To ensure these children are proficient in the language, obviously we need teachers who are proficient in English.
But this annual report shows a worrying state. Only 8.2% of our English teachers achieved the top (C2) score in their English proficiency test, with the vast majority (64.23%) achieved only the middle level (B2) scores or below.
Unless something drastic is done to push up the proficiency of our teachers, children from poor families will not achieve their dreams.
We welcome the publication of the names of the 10 schools that performed best in the last Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test.
The ministry has not released the full list, but at least the release of the data indicates a change in attitude.
It is interesting to note that the best performer is a private school, and the majority are all schools that enjoy a higher degree of autonomy.
This confirms the observation IDEAS recorded in our Yayasan Sime Darby-funded research “From Average to Excellent” that autonomy is a key ingredient in school transformation.
In an interview before the release of the report, Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said that within two years, students from private schools will be returning to public schools.
If the Ministry wants to head in that direction, then it should look seriously at ways to devolve more authority to schools and also autonomy.
WAN SAIFUL WAN JAN
Institute For Democracy And Economic Affairs (IDEAS)